Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – September 2019

By , October 18, 2019 12:03 PM

News headlines regarding today’s employment report for Arkansas will probably report that the unemployment rate increased from 3.4% to 3.5%.  In reality, the numbers of employed and unemployed Arkansans were essentially unchanged in September, and the uptick in the reported unemployment rate was due to rounding error.  (Taking the calculation out to the nearest hundredth, the unemployment rate changed from 3.44% to 3.46%.)  No matter how it’s sliced, the change from August to September was not statistically significant.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

In terms of the underlying numbers, the household survey reported a decline of 522 in the number of employed (-0.04%) and an increase of 233 in the number of unemployed (+0.50%).  Compared to a year earlier, the number of employed was up by 12,666 and the number of unemployed down by 3,418.  For the past three months, changes in the totals have been minimal.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The national unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percent in September, from 3.7% to 3.5%, so the point estimates for unemployment in Arkansas and the U.S. as a whole are now identical.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
The report on nonfarm payroll employment showed an increase of 1,600 employees from August to September (seasonally adjusted)*.  Notable gains were reported for Construction, Education & Health Services and Leisure & Hospitality Services.  The increase in Education & Health Services was primarily attributable to the Health Care & Social Assistance sector.  The only notable monthly decline was in Manufacturing, which was down by 1,300.  Month-to-month changes in manufacturing employment have been somewhat volatile this year, but the trend is still positive, up by 1,900 from September 2018.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The seasonally adjusted statistics show a year-over-year increase in total employment of 16,700—approximately 1.3%.  Over the same period, nonfarm payroll employment for the entire U.S. increased by 1.4%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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 *As is always the case in September, the not-seasonally adjusted statistics showed a sharp increase in employment in Education as well as State & Local Government, attributable to teachers going back to class at private and public educational institutions.  The seasonally adjusted figures reported here account for the recurring nature of that predictable change.

Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format consistent with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing – November 14th, 2019

By , October 18, 2019 11:01 AM

LOGOS

Little Rock Regional Economic Briefing

Join us at a breakfast event on November 14th to hear from experts who will give updates on economic conditions and the outlook for the region and nation.

The Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Arkansas Economic Development Institute are hosting the event, which includes speakers from both institutions.

  • Kevin Kliesen, St. Louis Fed research officer and business economist, will discuss national conditions.
  • Carlos Silva, Arkansas Economic Development Institute regional economist, will give the Little Rock metro report.
  • Michael Pakko, Arkansas Economic Development Institute chief economist and state economic forecaster, will discuss the Arkansas economic outlook.

The program also will include a welcome from Robert Hopkins, senior vice president and regional executive of the Little Rock Branch, and a Q&A session following the presentations.

The briefing should be of particular interest to business leaders, academics, community development practitioners and others interested in economic conditions.

A hot buffet breakfast will be served. The event is open on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.

Questions? Contact Julie Kerr at julie.a.kerr@stls.frb.org or 501-324-8296.

Date:
Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019
Time:
7:30 – 10 a.m.
Location:
William J. Clinton Library and Museum
1200 President Clinton Ave.
Little Rock, Ark.  72203 (map it)

Register Now

Personal Consumption Expenditures – 2018

By , October 4, 2019 12:26 PM

Yesterday the BEA released state-level data on Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) for 2018.  PCE increased by 4.0% in Arkansas, well below the national average of 5.1%.*  Growth rates ranged from a high of 7.3% in Washington to a low of 3.6% in West Virginia.  Arkansas’ growth rate ranked 44th among the 50 states.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Arkansas PCE growth had been running at about the same pace as the U.S. in 2016 and 2017—and in fact, an upward revision to the Arkansas data for 2017 put Arkansas slightly ahead of the national average (4.5% vs. 4.4%).  The 4.0% growth rate for 2018 represents slowdown from 2017, but was still well-above growth in any other year since 2011.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The slowdown between 2017 and 2018 was spread across most categories of consumer spending. The components that showed the sharpest slowdown included Recreational goods and vehicles, and Financial services and insurance. Spending categories that showed accelerated growth in 2018 included Clothing and footwear, and Gasoline and other energy goods.

Table 1 compares growth rates by spending categories for the U.S. and Arkansas. Nearly all components grew more slowly in Arkansas than the U.S., with the exception of Housing and utilities, and Final consumption spending of Nonprofit Institutions Serving Households. The largest contributors to overall growth—for both Arkansas and the U.S.—were Housing and utilities, and Health care.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Per Capita PCE
Arkansas PCE spending per person in 2018 averaged $34,095, approximately 79.7% of the U.S. average of $42,757.  The difference is not surprising:  Per capita personal income in Arkansas was 79.4% of the U.S. average in 2018.

Table 2 shows that per capita spending in Arkansas is lower than the national average for most expenditure categories, but exceeds the U.S. average for Motor vehicles and parts, and Gasoline and other energy goods. Conversely, per capita spending on Transportation services is significantly lower in Arkansas than the U.S. average. Across broad categories, Arkansans spend a larger share of their total budget on both durable and nondurable goods and less on Services. In the two categories of that represented the largest contributions to the growth of total consumer spending in 2018, Arkansans spend a smaller share of their budgets on Housing and utilities but a higher share on Health care.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

*Note:  PCE growth rates are not adjusted for inflation.

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – August 2019

By , October 2, 2019 1:43 PM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas metropolitan areas generally held steady in August. Not seasonally adjusted rates declined in all eight metro areas, but those changes were associated with the start of the new school year at public and private educational institutions. After seasonal adjustment, unemployment rates were unchanged in six of the eight metro areas. The unemployment rate in Fort Smith ticked up 0.1% to 3.6% and the rate in Texarkana ticked down 0.1% to 4.2%. Compared to a year earlier, unemployment rates were down across the state–with the exception of Memphis and Pine Bluff which both saw rates 0.1% higher than in August 2018.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates.

Payroll Employment
Monthly changes in nonfarm payroll employment varied considerably across metro areas. Texarkana showed unusually strong job growth of 0.7%, Fayetteville and Hot Springs were both up by 0.3%, and Jonesboro was up 0.2%. Job declines were recorded for Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff. On a year-over year basis, employment growth rates cluster into three categories: The rapidly growing metro areas include Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, and Texarkana (all with higher growth rates than the national average). Slower growing metro areas include Little Rock and Memphis. The two remaining areas, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff, have both experienced employment declines over the most recent twelve months.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Arkansas Personal Income – 2019:Q2

By , September 24, 2019 5:21 PM

Arkansas total personal income increased at an annual rate of 5.0% in the second quarter, slightly slower than the nationwide average of 5.4%. The increase was an improvement over the first quarter growth rate (revised) of 1.9%. Over the most recent four quarters, personal income has increased by 4.0%, compared with the U.S. growth rate of 4.9%.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The second quarter numbers featured sharp declines in farm income, which also had the effect of depressing total proprietors’ income. The news release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis noted that declining farm income was a leading contributor to earnings declines and slow growth across the agricultural heartland. The unusually sharp declines were in turn attributed to “smaller Market Facilitation Payments in the second quarter of 2019 than in the first quarter.” (The Market Facilitation Program is the major government support program that “provides assistance to farmers and ranchers with commodities directly impacted by unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional export markets.”)  Wages and Salaries increased at a 4.7% rate — approximately the same pace as the nation. Dividends, Interest and Rent increased at a rate of 8.2% and Personal Current Transfer Receipts were up at a 7.4% pace.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Data Revisions
Today’s personal income release included annual revisions to the historical data. Data were revised as far back as 1998:Q1; however, substantive revisions were limited to the period from 2012 forward. For Arkansas, the revisions showed a consistently higher adjustment of the total income data, with generally positive effects on growth rates.  In particular, the revised figures show higher growth in 2016 and 2018 than previously reported.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The cumulative effect of the revision was to increase the level of 2019:Q1 personal income in Arkansas by $2.2 billion. The upward revision was more than accounted for by higher estimates for Dividends, Interest and Rent, for which cumulative upward revisions totaled nearly $2.5 billion. Wage and Salary disbursements were marked up by $827 million and Personal Current Transfer Receipts were revised upward by $107 million. Farm income and proprietors’ income showed sharp downward revisions for 2018 and 2019:Q1. The cumulative impact of farm income revisions for the first quarter of 2019 totaled $1.47 billion.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – August 2017

By , September 20, 2019 11:18 AM

The August report on state-level employment showed that Arkansas’ unemployment rate was 3.4%, the same level as in the previous month.  The national unemployment rate was also unchanged at 3.7%, so the Arkansas rate remained 0.3% lower than the national average (a difference that is too small to be statistically significant).  The August household survey showed a slight decline in the  number of employed (-832) but that was the first monthly decline so far this year, with the previous 7 monthly changes averaging an increase of 1,870.  The number of unemployed was essentially unchanged in August (-41).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2,300 in August, with an upward revision to July’s figure adding another 1,100 to the cumulative total for the year (seasonally adjusted).  Over the past 12 months, payroll employment has increased by 15.6%, a gain of approximately 1.2%.  According to the monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arkansas is one of 26 states where the year-over-year gain in employment was considered statistically significant.

As shown in the table below,the bulk of the job gains in Arkansas were associated with Manufacturing, up by 1,800 jobs — a monthly gain of 1.1% that offset declines from the previous three months.  Over the past year, employment in manufacturing has increased by 3,900, or 2.4%.  Monthly changes in the service-providing sectors were mixed:  expanding sectors included Financial Services, Professional and Business Services and Education & Health Services.  Leisure & Hospitality Services and Other Services were down for the month, as was Retail Trade.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

It is notable that both the household survey and payroll survey data are revealing similar trends in employment growth.  For the past four months, both measures have reported year-over-year changes in the range of 1.1% to 1.3%.   Over the past five years of relatively steady employment growth in Arkansas, the household and payroll survey measures have averaged growth rates of 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

# # #

 *Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found here:  Table-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – July 2019

By , August 28, 2019 3:36 PM

Unemployment rates edged lower in Texarkana and Hot Springs in July, but were unchanged in Arkansas’ other metro areas.  Unemployment in the Memphis metro area, which includes one county in Arkansas, was up by 0.2 percentage points to 4.2%.  Unemployment rates were generally lower than a year earlier, with year-over-year changes ranging from -0.8 percentage points in Texarkana to -0.2 percentage points in Fayetteville and Little Rock.  Two exceptions to the year-over-year declines were Pine Bluff (up 0.1 percentage point) and Memphis, where unemployment was 4.2% in both July 2018 and July 2019.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment declined in July by 0.2% in Fort Smith and in Little Rock, but was higher in the state’s other metro areas.  Employment growth in Hot Springs was particularly robust, up 0.8% in a single month.  Compared to July 2018, employment has shown solid growth in Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Memphis and Texarkana.  Fort Smith is essentially unchanged from the previous year, while Pine Bluff continues to suffer employment declines.  Total employment in Pine Bluff is now over 13% lower than before the recession of 2008-09.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

 

Arkansas Taxable Sales – 2019:Q2

By , August 27, 2019 5:02 PM

After a slow start in the first quarter of the year, Arkansas Taxable Sales surged 3.0% higher in the second quarter.  Compared to a year earlier, taxable sales were up 3.1%.  Gasoline prices edged higher, averaging $2.46, up from $2.11 in the first quarter.  As a result, Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) grew at a slightly faster rate of 3.2% for the quarter.  Over the most recent four quarters, ATSIG was up 2.6%.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Sources: Department of Finance and Administration, Oil Price Information Service, Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Over the past five years, ATS has expanded at an annual rate of 3.0%, while ATSIG has grown at a rate of only 2.5%.  The slower pace of the measure including gasoline sales reflects the fact that gasoline prices (and hence gasoline expenditures) were considerably higher in 2014.  (Gasoline prices averaged $3.43 in the second quarter of 2014.)  Over the same 5-year period, inflation (as measured by the price index for personal consumption expenditures) has averaged a 1.3% annual rate.  Consequently, the growth rate of real taxable sales has averaged only 1.7%, or 1.2% including spending on gasoline.

# # #

Arkansas Taxable Sales (ATS) is calculated by the Arkansas Economic Development Institute to serve as a timely proxy for Arkansas retail sales. The series is derived from sales and use tax data, adjusting for the relative timing of tax collections and underlying sales, changes in tax laws, and seasonal patterns in the data.  Arkansas Taxable Sales Including Gasoline (ATSIG) incorporates data on the state motor fuel tax and gasoline prices from the Oil Price Information Service. A spreadsheet of the monthly and quarterly data is available here: Arkansas Taxable Sales 2019:Q2 (Excel file).

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – July 2019

By , August 16, 2019 4:50 PM

Arkansas’ unemployment rate ticked downward yet again in July, reaching an all-time low of 3.4%.  June’s record-low reading of 3.5% had been previously recorded in some of the preliminary data for 2018, but was a new low compared to revised figures. The new 3.4% record is the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the time-series—even among previous preliminary estimates.  The rate was driven lower by a continuing decline in the number of unemployed workers—down by approximately 400 in July and down by more than 4,300 over the past five months. Meanwhile, the number of employed was up by 800 in July and after seven consecutive monthly increases the number of employed is up by nearly 2,900 for the year.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Arkansas’ unemployment rate in July was 0.3% lower than the national rate of 3.7%.  However, given the range of uncertainty in the the data, the difference is not statistically significant.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
Before seasonal adjustment, nonfarm payroll employment dropped sharply in July (-13,900).  However, most of the decline was associated with summer vacation for workers in public and private education.  After seasonal adjustment, total employment was down by only 900 jobs.  Manufacturing and Construction were down for the month, but remain significantly higher than a year earlier.  Service-providing sectors continued their recent, slower trend rate of growth.  The exception was Leisure and Hospitality, which continues to add jobs at a robust rate—up 600 jobs for the month and up 5,000 since July 2018.  One notable weakness was in the Administrative & Support Services component of Professional & Business Services, a component that includes temporary clerical workers.  If demand for new employees were slowing, this component might be one of the first places to show weakness.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – June 2019

By , August 1, 2019 12:16 PM

Unemployment rates in Arkansas’ metro areas generally continued to trend lower in June, with monthly declines in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Texarkana.  Unemployment was unchanged in Fort Smith, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff, while Memphis was the only metro area showing a slight increase for the month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Relative to the statewide unemployment rate of 3.5%, rates are lower in Fayetteville, Jonesboro and Little Rock.  Rates in Memphis, Pine Bluff and Texarkana are above the statewide average, while Fort Smith and Hot Springs remain near the statewide average.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smoothed Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment was higher in most of the state’s metro areas, with particularly large monthly increases in Fayetteville and Jonesboro.  Two metro areas—Hot Springs and Texarkana—saw declines for the month, but both remain higher than a year earlier.   Pine Bluff is the only metro area to see zero job growth over the most recent 12 months, and it is also the only area to have experienced job losses since the current trend of statewide employment growth began in early 2014.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Since the onset of the “great recession” at the end of 2007, cumulative employment growth has varied markedly across the state.  Employment in Fayetteville and Jonesboro has climbed by over 20%.  In Little Rock, Memphis and Hot Springs, cumulative growth has been modest but positive.  On the other hand, employment in Texarkana, Fort Smith and Pine Bluff all remain well below their levels in 2007.  In Pine Bluff, the cumulative decline is over 13%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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